Incredible reproduction of Van Gogh masterpieces

 

Painter Zhao Xiaoyong works on a copy of a self-portrait by Van Gogh.

I chanced upon an episode of Witness on the Aljazeera cable television and I was glued to my seat watching it, such that I decided to share it with you.

This short film by Haibo Yu and Kiki Tianqi Yu shows the incredible talent displayed by a family of painters and some friends in duplicating the famous works of art by renowned artists, which in this particular case were those of the Netherland’s famous son, Vincent van Gogh. The much talked about Chinese painter here is Zhao Xiaoyong.

While we are confronted with stories of fake news now-a-days, stories about fake paintings coming from all over, but especially from China, has been with us for a long time that it no longer surprises us.

What is amazingly surprising, however, is the prolificacy by which these fake paintings are being produced by poor, migrant people eking out a living in a crummy place.

Enjoy reading the short article and be amazingly entertained watching the video by clicking at this website: http://www.aljazeera.com/programmes/witness/2018/02/dreaming-vincent-china-copy-artists-180208090217935.html.

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Trump’s idiotic plan for a military parade

 

US President Donald Trump

For a man feeling so superior and so obsessed with macho competition in the context of ‘mine’s-is-bigger-than-yours’, I am not at all surprised at US President Donald Trump’s idiotic plan for a massive military parade.

Remember what the world saw and heard not so long ago when Trump tweeted urging someone from North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un’s “depleted and food starved regime” to inform him that Trump’s “nuclear button” is a much bigger and more powerful than Kim’s and that Trump’s button works, in response to Kim’s declaration that he had a button for nuclear weapons on his table and the entire U.S. mainland was now within strike range?

According to reports Trump has already given the Pentagon its marching orders to plan a major military parade that would display its military might in Washington, D.C., in the same vein as the French Bastille Day military parade from where he got the idiotic vision.

Well, not really in the same vein because for one considered a narcissist his intention is to have the grandiose military parade of them all.

It is not only about surpassing Bastille Day parade every July 14th, but outshining as well the military parade of other nations like Russia’s Great Patriotic War, a celebration commemorating the end of World War II, or China’s display of awesome military power when celebrating events like the foundation of the People’s Republic of China in front of the Tiananmen Gate, or Iran’s military parade commemorating the Iran-Iraq war, and who is more notorious for military parades that North Korea itself.

But one should understand that a military parade that Trump is envisioning to have is really not about the USA, for the whole world knows the might of the military arsenal the greatest and most powerful country on earth possess.

There is nothing to flaunt about as the country’s awesome military capabilities are recognized and acknowledge by friends and foes alike.

So, if the planned military parade is not for the USA, what is it for?

What else but to showcase the stable genius of Trump!

It is Trump’s ego tripping where he wants the whole world to see how his pompous presence and leadership inadequacies that have made him a historically unpopular president presiding over a deeply divided and disquieted country is visibly recognized and acknowledged by a smart salute, which surely he deserves not, as the uniformed military personnel pass him by.

Roque’s absurd statement on China’s reclaimed islands in the SCS

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque

When President Rodrigo Duterte ditched Ernesto Abella for Rep. Harry Roque as presidential spokesperson, it was all thumbs up for me for there couldn’t have been a better choice than one who is more able to defend the president and articulate enough to speak for and in his behalf.

What really made Roque highly favorable for the position is that, like Duterte, he knows his law and they seem to be on the same wave length, despite the fact that both, too, have seemingly different views on human rights issue.

But knowing the law and making public assertions where the law has nothing to do are two entirely different aspects which could affect the sensitivities of people, especially those who are not dumb.

One does not have to be lawyer to understand what is happening in the South China Sea (SCS). Or to put it bluntly, one does not have to be a lawyer to understand what the Chinese are doing in the SCS or the West Philippine Sea (WPS) for that matter.

Thus, for Roque, therefore, to declare in an interview, “Clearly, eventually, those artificial islands will be ours if we can ask China to leave”, is plain ridiculous and absurd and an insult to our intelligence.

Just because the country is “asserting an independent foreign policy”, as Roque affirmed, that “we have ceased to be a lackey of any other state”.  I suppose Roque was referring to the US. So my question is: What are we now to China?

I could not agree more with Sen. Grace Poe who criticized Roque for saying the Philippines will someday thank China for its artificial islands in the WPS (SCS).

Poe said in a statement, “The WPS will freeze over first before China will even begin toying with the idea of giving us back those islands.”

Truth to tell is that we are at China’s mercy. The Chinese are using us more than we are using them. We are waging war against illegal drugs but in reality the drugs coming in are mostly from China, reports say.

Yes, China may be supplying us with arms and helping us build some of our infrastructure projects, but those are all small tokens in exchange for our peaceful, if not passive attitude towards them for their perpetual dominion in the area.

Talking about uncontested hegemony by China!

Critics chide Duterte for Chinese militarization in the South China Sea

 

Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate

For the life of me I don’t know why political foes of President Rodrigo Duterte keep on blaming him for the militarization of the reclaimed islands in the South China Sea (SCS).

Perhaps this is the umpteenth time that I have also defended Duterte from this seemingly unreasonable disparagement from the opposing party.

Lately,  Bayan Muna Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate condemned, yet again,  the alleged “inaction and deafening silence” of the Duterte’s administration, as new photographs bared continuous militarization in seven reefs claimed by the Philippines in the Spratly archipelago. He described it as a “see-no-evil; speak-no-evil; hear-no-evil” attitude and as a “this blatant violation of our sovereignty.”

In the same vein, an opposition party politician, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, said Duterte should not “stand idly by” as Beijing claims disputed islands and completes the militarization of territory.

Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

Pangilinan even sounded melodramatic when he made the following statements: “What makes a country? Aside from the recognition of its neighbors, a country is defined by its territory and the people in that territory, and its ability to defend its territory and people. Thus, it is the government’s sacred core duty to protect its territory on behalf of its people.”

“That’s why we are deeply troubled that instead of expressing outrage, Malacañang displayed a nonchalant attitude in playing down China’s militarization of the entire South China Sea, including the West Philippine Sea.”

Again, I am asking both Zarate and Pangilinan, and the others who have the politician’s trend of thought, this: what can a third world country like ours do when a giant, militarily powerful and economically super-strong country like China, disregards the existence of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS), also known as the Law of the Sea Treaty – the international agreement that defined the limits of the territorial seas of nations and the areas in which they could exploit marine resources, then claims practically the whole of the SCS on the pretext of historical basis and starts reclaiming coral reefs/atolls and other rock protrusion they see and then converting them into garrisons and airfields?

Like I said, the Chinese territory is now in our backyard already and while The Hague ruled in the Philippines’ favor in 2016, when we challenged China’s reclamation of the Spratly Islands in 2013, still China continued with impunity its controversial buildup in the area.

In all of these, was the U.S., the greatest nation on earth, able to deter China from militarizing the SCS? Where is the U.S. in all of these then, especially knowing the decision of the international tribunal at The Hague?

Nowhere, really, because the U.S. main concern is that the freedom of navigation in the area remains unhampered.

So if China was able to show its will, determination and muscle to develop the SCS despite the knowledge of the greatest military power on earth, who are we to stand up against China?

All I am saying here, therefore, is that, like Zarate and Pangilinan, and whoever else that wants to criticize Duterte for his “deafening silence” on the Chinese militarization of the SCS, they should vent their disappointment, nay their ire, at the U.S.

Making enemies of the Chinese who are occupying a mammoth airbase at our backyard with big guns pointing at us is simply a big folly.

No let-up for 81-year-old Chinese woman

 

Xue Minxiu

This could very well go under the ‘Believe it or not’ publications.

I am not trying to underrate the capabilities of people in their 80’s because I personally know some close to me who are still very lucid. I referring of course to some of my older siblings who, I would say, are in their earlier twilight years now. Am not really that far behind, mind you.

Obviously they are all enjoying their retirement spending most of the time reading, but not forgetting that the body, too, needs to be revved up to keep it moderately functioning, and most of all not to miss taking those prescription pills to help make life sustainable.  To be an octogenarian is paradoxical. It is a challenge reaching and going beyond it, but many consider it also a bonus, thanks to the good genes. Or shall I say the grace of God?

But whether it is the good genes or the grace of God, Xue Minxiu, the 81-year-old Chinese woman that is the subject of this article, can’t seem to slow down even in her advanced age as she was recently reported to have been awarded a bachelor’s degree in e-commerce.

According to reports, what makes Xue’s achievement even more notable is that until just a few years ago, the octogenarian from the north China city of Tianjin had almost no computer skills.

Born in 1936, Xue was quoted as saying that it was her life’s ambition to graduate from university. She was actually offered a place at Northwest University in Xian, capital of northwest China’s Shaanxi province, in the 1950s, but her state-owned employer would not let her go.

The report did not say why she was refused permission, but at that time it was not uncommon for public sector firms to do so. In fact, until a law change in 2001, higher education in China was off limits to anyone who was married or over the age of 25.

But succeeding modern leaders made revision of the rules allowing Xue to fulfill her dreams of obtaining a college degree, no matter how late it may be.

Certainly, Xue did not waste her time as she taught herself to speak English, French, Russian and the dead language, Latin.

While it took several years for Xue to pick up enough computer knowledge to be able to meet the basic entry requirements for her e-commerce course, her tenacity and hard work eventually paid off and in March 2014, she enrolled at Tianjin University’s School of Online Education, but not before making six attempts to pass that element of her degree course.

These days, however, she is like a duck in water when it comes to drawing up Excel spreadsheets or processing images in Photoshop, the report said.

Here is to more life ahead! Xue sure deserves it!

Duterte’s illogical advice to Suu Kyi

 

Myanmar’s Aung San Suu Kyi with President Rodrigo Duterte at the Asean-India Summit 2018.

I had been always a big supporter of President Rodrigo Duterte in his actions, and even in his words, as the leader of the Filipino nation.

In fact in the numerous pieces I wrote about him you have read me defending him from criticisms hurled against him here and abroad.

Although many of Duterte’s comments are considered to be tongue in cheek, as it is his nature when making ad-lib speeches, this time, however, I cannot just let it pass without commenting about its importance or significance.

I am referring to the remarks Duterte made to Myanmar (formerly Burma) leader Aung San Suu Kyi during his speech at the recent Asean-India Summit 2018, saying, that the latter should not bother about human rights activists as they are “just a noisy bunch”.

Note that Suu Kyi is facing international criticism for failing to address the plight of more than 600,000 members of the largely-Muslim Rohingya ethnic group who have fled to Bangladesh, after Myanmar’s military launched a campaign ostensibly aimed at eradicating Rohingya armed groups.

Those who have fled describe a campaign of killing, rape, and destruction, accounts that have been backed by human rights groups and journalists working in the region.

Suu Kyi has yet to recognize that atrocities are taking place and has not spoken out against the Burmese military.

In fact I have written about Suu Kyi and the sufferings of the Rohingyas which can be read at the following links:

https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not/; https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/2017/10/05/aung-san-suu-kyi-a-laureate-she-is-not-part-ii/; https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/plight-of-the-rohingyas/

Many people in Buddhist-majority Myanmar regard the Rohingya as illegal immigrants from Bangladesh. The United Nations described Myanmar’s crackdown as ethnic cleansing, which Myanmar denies.

“I pity her because she seems to be caught in the middle of being a Nobel Prize winner for peace and this is now the ruckus, she is heavily criticized,” Duterte said in his speech.

Suu Kyi’s case is very much unlike Duterte’s when the latter was also criticized for human right abuses and alleged extrajudicial killings during his bloody campaign against illegal drugs.

Suu Kyi is not only a Nobel Prize winner for peace, but also Myanmar’s leader, and to be silent and insensitive to the plight of the Rohingyas living in her country speaks badly of her reputation.

What I am just saying is that Duterte should not have compared the fate of the more than half a million Rohingyas whose desire is simply to improve their lot with the criticism he got for killing drug personalities who are bent on destroying other people’s lives with impunity through the use of illegal drugs.

There is simply no logical comparison between one leader’s silence that caused adversity to hundreds of thousands of people and another leader’s strong political will to get rid of the scourge afflicting the country and its people and in the process killing thousands.

The human rights activists may have been “just a noisy bunch” to Duterte, but definitely where Suu Kyi is concern she deserves condemnation not just of the “noisy bunch”, but of freedom-loving leaders as well, including Duterte.

Thus, I consider Duterte’s advice to Suu Kyi not to mind human rights activists as illogical.

 

“America” instead of “Landscape With Snow”

 

“America”

You might be thinking what this is that I am writing about. Well, a little perspective will probably help.

Both “America” and “Landscape With Snow” are works of art by different artists kept at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City. Often referred to as The Guggenheim, it is the permanent home of a continuously expanding collection of impressionist, post-impressionist, early modern and contemporary art and also features special exhibitions throughout the year.

The Guggenheim, as well as other art museums, is the customary place where the White House (WH) occupants borrow major works of art during their time office to adorn the Oval Office, their private living quarters and the other rooms.

The Smithsonian museum for instance loaned the Kennedys a Eugène Delacroix painting, “The Smoker”. The Obamas preferred abstract art, choosing works by Mark Rothko and Jasper Johns.

“Landscape With Snow”

President Donald Trump’s WH, however, is said to have requested from the Guggenheim’s chief curator Van Gogh’s “Landscape With Snow” painting depicting a man in a black hat walking along a path in Arles, France, with his dog, to be placed inside the couple’s room.

Nancy Spector, the chief curator, reportedly denied the request, in her email to the WH, saying, the 19th century painting was “prohibited from travel except for the rarest of occasions”. She further explained that the painting was on its way to be exhibited at the Guggenheim’s museum in Bilbao, Spain, and then would return to New York “for the foreseeable future.”

Spector instead offered an alternative that is “America”, an 18-karat, fully functioning, solid gold toilet which is a creation of contemporary artist Maurizio Cattelan. She even enclosed a photo of it – for their reference.

Cattelan’s “America” caused something of a sensation after the Guggenheim unveiled it in 2016, drawing more than a few headlines of amazement and amusement.

For a year, Cattelan’s gleaming gold toilet was on display at the Guggenheim restroom for the private use of members of the public with a guard posted outside and where a crew would arrive every 15 minutes or so with specially chosen wipes to clean the gold.

Now that the exhibition was over, the artist would “like to offer it to the White House for a long-term loan”, Spector said in her email.

Asked to explain the meaning of the installation and why he offered it to the Trumps, 57-year-old Cattelan answered: “What’s the point of our life? Everything seems absurd until we die and then it makes sense.”

Spector called the toilet “a cipher for the excesses of affluence” and said more than 100,000 people had queued “for the opportunity to commune with art and with nature”.

Though crafted from millions of dollars’ worth of gold, the sculpture is actually a great leveler. As Cattelan has said, “Whatever you eat, a US$200 lunch or a US$2 hot dog, the results are the same, toilet-wise.”

But there is no doubt that the offer for “America” to be installed at Trump’s WH is a dig at Trump himself, given the latter’s well-documented history of installing gold-plated fixtures in his residences, his properties and even his airplane.